Apple needs to make it easier to update older iPhones

A UK watchdog has forced Apple to be more open with customers about the impact updates will have on iPhone performance. But this highlights a problem with the way Apple -- and other device manufacturers -- are now pushing updates to users.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

So, following an investigation from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Apple has decided to be more open about the impact iOS updates have on iPhone performance and battery life.

According to the CMA, Apple will "notify people when issuing a planned software update if it is expected to materially change the impact of performance management on their phones."

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The CMA also said that "Apple will also provide easily accessible information about battery health and unexpected shutdowns, along with guidance on how iPhone users can maximise the health of their phone's battery," but it is unclear if this is referring to the battery management information already included in iOS, or whether Apple will be expanding this to include more information.

This is a good move, but feels tokenistic at best. After all, unless Apple makes the message very clear, it's unlikely that many will even bother reading it (especially if it is buried in legalese and terms and conditions), and even if they do read it, the question arises as to whether people are going to be able to make sense of the information

Think about it, if I told you your iPhone was going to be 10% slower, would you know what that translated to in the real world? I wouldn't.

Additionally, if people are put off from installing iOS updates because they will negatively affect performance, then this puts people's data at risk.

The real problem isn't that iOS updates are slowing down older hardware, the problem is the way that Apple pushes out updates.

Right now, if you want to update iOS hardware, you have to download a new version of iOS. This is great for people running newer hardware because they get new features and security updates all in a single package. But for those running older hardware, it creates a dilemma. If they want the security updates to keep their iPhone safe, or bug fixes to they have no choice but to download and install the whole package.

What Apple needs to do is offer security updates and bug fixes separately, to allow those who don't want the download-and-install, potentially performance-zapping iOS releases to still get access to fixes to keep their iPhones safe and running well.

While this would be more work for Apple, it seems to offer the best of both worlds.

Do you think Apple should offer security patches and bug fixes separately complete iOS updates, or do you think the current mechanism is working fine? Let me know!

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